This weather this winter has challenged us in many ways. Driving has been hazardous, heating bills are up and snow removal has been down! Along with the weather challenges we face, each year we also face colds and influenza at this time of year.
But this year’s flu strains are different than previous years according to health officials because 99% of throat swabs sent to the CDC have shown the strains to be resistant to Tamiflu. Last year only 11% were resistant. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” truly applies this year to flu vaccines.
Flu season is at its highest peak from December through March. New recommendations from the CDC this past year recommend that all children 6 months to 18 years of age receive a flu shot. Currently, we have seen only about 50% of our patient population receive their flu shot this year. Children tend to spread the flu more easily as they often put their hands in their mouths, don’t cover their coughs and sneezes and touch everything in site.
What does this mean to you? Lost school days, work days, spread of illness to other family members and children who are out of sorts. Although we tend to think of the elderly are being the population most affected with hospitalization and death from complications of the flu. However, during the 2007-2008 flu season, over 20,000 children were hospitalized due to complications of the flu and 83 children died.
We tend to think that “it won’t happen to me” but no one knows who will get sick, who will have complications and who will have to be hospitalized. Even the healthiest children can wind up with a bad case of the flu. This happened in the case of 4 year old Amanda who came down with a slight cough and fever. By the next day she started vomiting but her parents thought the virus would just run its course. Sadly, Amanda did not survive her Influenza illness. Her father, Richard, is the founder of Families Fighting Flu and advocates for every child to receive their influenza vaccine. He says “The best way that we could have had Amanda here today was to get her vaccinated. It is the single most important thing parents can do to protect themselves and their children.” To read more on Amanda’s story, visit http://www.familiesfightingflu.org/.
Our office is working with our suppliers of the flu vaccine—so far we have adequate supplies and appointment times available to vaccinate your children.
For further information on the flu:
Photo courtesy of: www.flickr.com